PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 11:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 2013, 11:17am

Bo Xilai supporters gather in Chongqing


Patrick Boehler has published on China and Southeast Asia in four languages for publications in the US, Europe and Asia. After stints with Austria's ministries of defence and foreign affairs in Vienna and Beijing, he began his reporting career in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini and, later, The Irrawaddy Magazine, a Myanmar exile publication in Thailand. He holds a doctorate in political science and has taught journalism at the University of Hong Kong. Follow him on Twitter: @mrbaopanrui

Die-hard supporters of disgraced Communist Party Politburo member Bo Xilai gathered outside a Chongqing court on Thursday to defend his “triad-busting” legacy.

“The people of Chongqing do not welcome an organised crime lawyer,” one banner read, according to photos that spread on Sina Weibo and forums. “Fight organised crime, eliminate the evil.” Many of the comments on Weibo reflected some nostalgia for Bo’s rule, which ended last year and became China’s most spectacular political scandal in decades. “I only trust Bo Xilai,” one person commented on the photos. “Justice will prevail.”

The red banners they were holding were directed against lawyer Li Zhuang, who is leading appeals against what he says were politically motivated convictions during Bo’s tenure. He himself has been sentenced to two and half years in prison for fabricating evidence in 2010. The small protest shows that Bo, son of revolutionary hero Bo Yibo, still has at least some support in his former Central Chinese power base.

Bo gained popularity in the city for taking on Chongqing’s notorious organised crime. In 2009, he sacked the city’s police chief, Wen Qiang, who was eventually executed for corruption. Bo replaced him with his right-hand man Wang Lijun, who ran his much publicised “dahei”, or “fight organized crime” campaign. Thousands of people were arrested during the crackdown and many were tortured.  

While Bo is still awaiting trial, Wang was sentenced to 15 years in prison last September on charges of bribery, breaking the law, abuse of power and an attempted defection to the United States. He is now serving time in a prison on the outskirts of Beijing.



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